Archive for ‘travel’

July 11, 2012

Austin: My Ambitious Austin Weekend

Waaaaaay back in 2009, I wrote a post called Top Ten Things to Do in Austin … the list still stands as an excellent guide, but as I spend a wedding long weekend in town with locals and not, I thought I’d make a list of things I want to do this weekend. To be clear, this is not a definitive Austin list like the last, it’s a what-hasn’t-Lyssa-seen-yet list!


Workout at The Combine Strength & Conditioning

Hot yoga at Pure Bikram Yoga with my parents

CrossFit Games are this week, so watching my pals compete while eating sweet potato fries and drinking Texas beers (Shiner Ruby Redbird I love you so very much and hope to find you on tap) with other pals at Cuatro’s

Always love running/mostly people watching at Town Lake


Round Rock Express game with wedding crew

Lounging poolside at WET at the W … sure to be similar to the Sky Hotel Aspen scene (Vegas-like).

Sand Volleyball at Zilker

Will I have time to find The Narrows?

Fishing with my dad and playing with my new camera lenses


Tried and loved Easy Tiger and Lick!, now it’s time to make it at least to Elizabeth Street Cafe and hopefully more …


Must visit a craft store or five for supplies for all my recent crafternoons!

Possible massage with Christopher

Always have to hit up Nordstrom Rack with the mama

… we’ll see what else I have time for! I can’t wait!

July 5, 2012

Festival Summer in Telluride

It’s hard to leave Aspen. Which must explain why in the three summers I’ve spent in Aspen, I’ve never made it to Telluride. However, nestled in the very-different-from-the-Rockies San Juan Mountains, Telluride (elevation: 8,750 ft.) lies in a box canyon, surrounded on three sides by 14,000-foot peaks, which makes for something awesome. Plus it connects to Mountain Village (elevation: 9,540) by a free, scenic gondola.

Maybe I’ve been wanting to visit, but now I have the motivation: I had no idea that Telluride has become such a festival hotbed. Behold an insane amount of festivals (8 before September ends):

The homegrown Telluride Yoga Festival (July 12-15, 2012) allows new and experienced yogis to deepen their practice through many different forms of yoga led by experts from around the globe.

The Telluride Jazz Festival (August 3-5, 2012) comes to town for its 36thyear, bringing internationally recognized acts in classic, mainstream, blues, Brazilian, African and Latin jazz. Performances are staged outdoors in the daytime and in intimate clubs and historic concert halls at night. “When trumpet great, Dizzy Gillespie exclaimed on his visit to Telluride in 1977, ‘If this ain’t paradise, heaven can wait,’ he hit the right note,” says Telluride Jazz Festival Executive Director, Paul Machado.

For foodies, foragers and folks searching for something more unusual, the Telluride Mushroom Festival (August 16-19, 2012) educates citizens, both visitor and local alike, about the many incredible aspects of the amazing world of mycology.

Further up the mountain, Telluride Festival of the Arts (August 17-19, 2012) is an annual weekend-long, culinary, and visual arts event held in Mountain Village.

Cycling enthusiasts can stop spinning their wheels for the stage one finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (August 20, 2012).  Olympians, World Champions, and Tour de France podium winners will race through the majestic Rockies, enduring more mountain passes than any other race in North America (Aspen is also a stop).

Brand new Rock and Roll Festival (August 25-26, 2012) will bring a dozen acts to Town Park, including Ben Harper and the Relentless 7, Los Lobos and Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

Held over Labor Day weekend, the Telluride Film Festival (September 2-5, 2012) is not a competition, but rather a celebration of the best in film from all around the world. Films must make their North American premiere at the festival in order to be considered, which has allowed attendees to be among the first to see highly regarded, award-winning films such as “The Descendants,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Bowling for Columbine.” Another unique aspect of the festival is the element of surprise; the program is kept secret until opening day.

The music festival season closes out with Telluride Blues and Brews (September 14-16, 2012), a three-day festival with headliners including Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule and the B-52s, along with a grand tasting featuring more than 50 of the best regional craft breweries.

For more on Telluride,

June 20, 2012

Aspen: Da Bears

I saw my first bear this summer, but thankfully I was on horseback. With summer hiking on the brain, it’s time to refresh our wild animal encounter skills in case you run into a bear without your trusty steed—and by steed, I could mean pistol, if you’re into that sort of thing (and I am, I mean, I don’t want Nali eaten by a mountain lion).

survival guide

For 19 other wild animals, click here: Freeze or Flee (you have to sign up to see the images any bigger than the one above)

March 28, 2012

10 Worst Things About Living in _______________

I came across a pretty funny list: The 10 Worst Things About Living in Las Vegas. I’m not particularly fond of Vegas myself from several visits, but this guy lived there and is extra funny about why it was terrible … It inspired me!

10 Worst Things About Living in Austin

  1. It’s hard to make a list about terrible things about living in Austin.
  2. The heat, when it’s above 110. Lower than that, you don’t really get to complain, you knew what you were getting in to.
  3. When there’s no water in Barton Creek and it’s above 110.
  4. That Barton Springs is closed on Thursdays. Who else accidentally goes every Thursday?!
  5. Everyone complaining about everyone else moving there from LA/Dallas/Brooklyn/fill in the blank. Guess what, that’s also why we got a google, a facebook, Neiman’s, crazy creative restaurants, and other good stuff. At least you were there first.
  6. Traffic during festival weekends. Austin was never prepared to be what it became.
  7. Insane amount of badass startsups, companies, and services. How are we supposed to keep up?
  8. Whole Foods corporate headquarters. There goes all my money.
  9. It might not be a small town, but I run into someone I don’t want to see every. single. time. I go to Whole Foods. Particularly if I’ve just run/crossfitted/yoga-ed and look like a sweaty, red-faced mess.
  10. Sometimes you have to stay friends with someone you don’t even really like just because they have a boat.

10 Worst Things About Living in Aspen

  1. Trying to get out. Flights are expensive and anything worth visiting is at least four hours away.
  2. Rent.
  3. Stereotypes. The real people who live in Aspen are nothing like the Aspen people believe in.
  4. Mud season. As the snow melts, it’s pretty gross.
  5. Snow in May. We’re all over it.
  6. Bears.
  7. Our Gap has older merchandise than the big cities’ Gaps and it’s still full price. WTH?
  8. Our restaurants are fantastic. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to eat at any of them.
  9. It’s a small town. Everyone knows everything about everyone, sometimes before you know it about yourself: “Oh, I heard you got that job you wanted! That’s wonderful!” “Errrrrmmmmm, they haven’t called me back yet.” “Oh.”
  10. You want socks or underwear? Order it online.

… according to the Las Vegas fella, perhaps he (we all?) need a European casino vacation to get perspective?

Did I miss any terrible things about living in Austin or Aspen that you need to add? Please please post in the comments so we can all laugh!!

October 31, 2011

Visiting Loudoun County, DC’s Wine Country

I recently took a fabulous trip to Loudoun [pronounce Lough-done] County, Virginia, otherwise known as DC’s Wine Country (teaser was here). Three days of wining and dining made for one very happy traveler! I’ll let the pictures speak for the highlights of the trip.

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Lansdowne Resort – Big, lush resort property with nice rooms, lots of amenities, and tons of golf course land. Health club is open to golf members so is more substantial than most resorts, with scheduled group fitness classes and yoga too.

Patowmack Farm – A working farm, wedding destination, and Wednesday-Sunday dinner restaurant with Chef Christopher Edwards at the helm.

Catoctin Creek Distilling – Organic local whiskey and other spirits.

Middleburg Country Inn – A B&B in Middleburg with lots of charm—and four-poster beds in every room!

Home Farm Store – All-happy, all-local butcher shop started by Sandy Lerner, former owner of Urban Decay cosmetics and Cisco Systems.

National Sporting Museum & Library – Devoted entirely to sporting, a non-lending library and really neat museum.

Red Fox Inn – Historic B&B and restaurant with lots of Civil War history.

Boxwood Winery – No winery tours (by appt) but tasting room in Middleburg.

Chrysalis Vineyards – Focused on Norton grapes, very fun tasting experience.

8 Chains North– Fun winery with live music, brother Ben Renshaw makes all the wines. Tried and liked an Otium Dornfelder 2009, the Dornfelder grape is apparently pretty rare so this was unique.

Mom’s Apple Pie – One of the most famous Virginia companies, whose blackberry pie has been named the best in the nation, owner/baker/sister-of-Ben Avis is really open and friendly. Amazing pumpkin muffins.

On The Potomac – One of Landsdowne’s restaurants, eclectic and innovative drinks and food, led by a team of young managers: the GM & bar master is 25 while Chef Wes Rosati is 31.

Tarara Winery – My fave visit featured amazing wines and even more amazing conversation with winemaker Jordan Harris about the realities of an agriculture-based business and how Tarara is experimenting with their grapes to make unusual wines.

The Wine Kitchen – One of Leesburg’s most popular dining spots, the lovely interior is designed to look like a kitchen—down to the walls in the bathroom, which have a bathtub painted to mimic the feeling of being in someone’s home.

Battle of Ball’s Bluff – Relatively unimportant battle in the Civil War that the Confederates won, however 1,000 reenactors and 2,000 spectators came to watch the 150-year reenactment!

Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm – A giant, local’s favorite restaurant that sources many farm-to-table ingredients. The most creative calamari I’ve ever had, and delicious everything else as well.

October 27, 2011

Teaser: Get Lost in Loudoun

I mentioned in Feel Good Friday that I went off on a press trip, to Loudoun County, Virginia. While I work on compiling all the photos and notes from the trip, you can check out the fun new web show Loudoun produced called Get Lost in Loudoun.

It’s funny, the majority of the cast is from Austin. They did a nationwide casting call but the most talent came from our fair city, so the actors are really experiencing what you might!

For the rest of the eps, click here.

September 26, 2011

Take Me There: Napa Valley

Despite my love for wine, travel, and the sunshine of California, I have not ever been to Napa Valley. Sad panda.

Just another reason to visit: Austin hotspot and “Best New Restaurant” James Beard Foundation Award nominee La Condesa just opened an outpost (view my coverage of the Austin location’s drinks here and food here). La Condesa Napa Valley, 1320 Main Street, St. Helena ( still features the vision of executive chef Rene Ortiz, blending traditional and innovative Mexican, an extensive tequila selection, artisanal cocktail menu, and California-driven wine list.

“The Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and its breadth of produce and ingredients is unparalleled,” says owner Jesse Herman.  “We’re excited to work hand-in-hand with the region’s growers and producers to combine the flavors of the Napa Valley with the spirit of La Condesa.”


La Condesa Napa Valley sources locally whenever possible and Ortiz has designed many new menu items that highlight ingredients from Northern California and Bay Area purveyors. The Napa Valley location also serves favorites from the Austin menu, including Taquitos Arábicos (seared venison, pickled cucumber, chipotle harissa, fennel pollen yogurt and cilantro rolled in a bacon-fat tortilla); Hongo Y Huitlacoche Huaraches (crispy masa flat breads topped with wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, yellow corn, farmer’s cheese, queso chihuahua, epazote and a dash of truffle oil); and Cangrejo Tostadas (lump crab meat, green mango, grapefruit, tomato, chives and chipotle mayo).


Food is cooked over a wood-fired grill imported from Texas to add an essential Lone Star flavor to the menu. La Condesa Napa Valley’s menu of unique cocktails is overseen by the 2011 42Below Cocktail World Cup national champion, Nate Wales but still features faves like El Cubico and all fresh juices.

drink menu

The interior of an historic building has been retrofitted to reflect the interior, quirky Mexican of the Austin location, including the whimsical art of Ortiz’s brother.


The restaurant is open nightly for dinner, from 5-10p, Sunday through Wednesday and from 5-11p, Thursday through Saturday.  Lunch will be served from 11:30a to 2:30p, Monday through Friday; and brunch service will be available from 10a to 3p on Saturday and Sunday. Take me there!

September 15, 2011

Austin: What to Bring to ACL (10 Essentials)

We learned what to wear to ACL a few days ago, now this one’s for the boys and girls … what to bring to ACL. Rule #1: as little as you can and still be comfy! Behold, the ten items you need (a sneak, click on the pick for the full ten-item board):

What to bring to ACL

Additional notes:

1. Water bottles must be either factory-sealed (2-1L allowed) or empty. This is why I recommend the Vapur: it folds. There are CamelBak refill stations all around the park, so USE them and don’t pay for water.

2. Snacks are technically not allowed, which is why I suggest minis. They hide under bandanas.

3. If you take nothing else from this list, wear your damn sunscreen. Don’t be an idiot and get sunburned.

August 15, 2011

BlogHer ’11

Was a blast.

Last weekend, I attended BlogHer ’11. It was phenomenal, featuring swag galore, bloggers all over the place, sponsors, parties, and lots of panels. Not that we went to that many of those. Networking. Empowering, inspiring women. Camraderie. Love it!

Here are a few snaps:

Convention center San Diego

This is the view from our hotel room at the Omni. This is the Convention Center, on the marina, where the BlogHer Conference was. Wow!

Marketing at BlogHer

Imagine you’re at an all-women’s conference. Think of the best marketing you can think of. See above.

bayfront yoga at blogher 11

Also awesome: bayfront yoga sponsored by Filtrete. Cool water filtering system, most excellent yoga. With tunes.


So. Much. Swag.

Coronado beach, San Diego

Of course, there was beach time.

San Diego was a blast. I love the Gaslamp District, the beach access, and all the hot men running around—literally. Running around.

May 18, 2011

Austin: Ultimate Scavenger Hunt

The summer-staple scavenger hunt is all grown up with the Four Seasons Austin’s summer-long scavenger hunt, with the chance to win one of more than 100 prizes! From Memorial Day (May 30, 2011) through Labor Day (September 5, 2011), the Four Seasons Austin Hotel’s Ultimate Austin Scavenger Hunt contest encourages everyone from locals to tourists to see the sights of Austin.

Austin skyline Four Seasons Hotel

“Our goal was to merge the fun of a scavenger hunt with modern technology and social media to encourage visitors to experience and share with others what makes Austin so unique,” says Rob Hagelberg, general manager.

To receive a prize, participants must complete at least 25 of 50 suggested photo tasks – ranging from two-steppin’ at the legendary Broken Spoke to viewing the Congress Avenue Bridge bats and tasting gelato at Whole Foods’ flagship store. You can’t upload until Memorial Day, but you can start snapping pics now! To view the 50 photo tasks, click on Ultimate Austin Scavenger Hunt contest website.

How to play? Photos must be uploaded to the “Contest” tab on the Hotel’s Facebook page, which will be visible starting May 30, 2011. The first 100 people to successfully complete 25 of the photo tasks will receive their choice of one of the following prizes:

  • One-night stay at Four Seasons Hotel Austin
  • Three-course dinner for two in TRIO, the Hotel’s award-winning restaurant
  • 50-minute spa treatment in The Spa at Four Seasons

In addition, one grand prize winner – the finalist whose photo album is voted the most creative by Facebook fans – will walk away with a luxurious vacation package that includes a three-night stay at anyFour Seasons hotel or resort in the continental US, round-trip airfare for two people and $500 in spending cash. The three finalists selected by Four Seasons staff will be announced September 7, with Facebook voting for the grand prize winner taking place September 7 through 14, 2011. The grand prize winner will be announced September 15, 2011.

What are you waitin’ for?


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